Back to school season is synonymous with cold and flu season. It seems that every year, when children gather in enclosed spaces, they manage to share every germ on the planet, and then generously share those germs with their parents and siblings. There are steps you can take to avoid illness during back to school season, however. With some basic hygiene habits and strategies, you can stay healthy this school year.
Start young and remind your children often about the importance of hand washing. Handwashing should follow specific steps for the most effective germ removal:
- Wet hands thoroughly, and lather well
- Scrub for at least 20 seconds, paying attention to spaces between fingers and nail beds.
- Rinse well with clean running water
Staying hydrated helps support immune functioning. Water provides the body with the means to flush harmful toxins and absorb nutrients. It supports lymphatic functions and keeps blood volume at ideal levels. If you or your child do get sick, drinking plenty of fluids can help break up mucus and congestion. If you are feverish, it’s important to keep a steady supply of fluids coming in to replace what is lost to sweating. Good hydration has even been linked to higher test scores.
Back to School Germs
Although sharing is an important life lesson, it’s equally important to teach children to keep their germs to themselves. Remind kids to sneeze or cough into a tissue, or if necessary into their elbow, rather than on their hands. Encourage frequent hand washing, and remind kids not to put things like pencil ends in their mouths.
Keep Active and Fit
Exercise is one of the best mood-boosters available to both kids and adults. When you feel good, you have more energy to engage in activities like hand washing that help keep you healthy. Not only that, but a fit, well-fed body is more readily able to fight off infection. Be sure your child is eating healthy meals and snacks and limit sugar and empty calories. A solid basis of nutrition, good hydration, fitness, and hygiene will help you avoid most of the illnesses floating around your child’s school this fall.